The UIC United Faculty union on Friday overwhelmingly voted to ratify its first contracts with university administrators.
Ninety-eight percent of union members voted in support of the tentative deal with the university, which was reached on April 16 and followed nearly two years of collective bargaining with administrators.
The union, which has about 1,000 total members and was legally recognized to represent all full-time tenured and non-tenured UIC faculty in 2012, voted earlier this month to set a strike date for April 23 if negotiations with the administration failed. The UIC faculty held a two-day strike back in February to highlight their demand for a "fair and equitable contract." Read more about the strike here.
“We formed this union to give UIC faculty a collective voice and the protections we need to advocate for our school, our students, and our members,” UIC United Faculty President Joe Persky said in a statement. “This agreement helps us do just that.”
Here is more from the union on the contract:
The contract, which applies retroactively for two years and extends through next year, increases faculty compensation, including a new minimum lecturer salary of $37,500. Previously, a lecturer with a PhD who teaches a required writing course for all incoming freshmen earned only $30,000 a year. The contract also provides stability through a system of promotion for these lecturers.
Faculty will also receive support for professional development and a computer replacement program.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued this statement following ratification of the contracts:
For two years, UIC United Faculty has been fighting for professional dignity and respect and to give their students what all college students deserve: reasonable class sizes, individualized instruction, support for cutting-edge research, and classrooms and labs that are safe and well-equipped. And its work has paid off. This first contract includes big gains in professional working conditions—particularly for nontenure-track faculty. In the end, this historic contract is not just significant for faculty members, who have long suffered from low wages and adverse working conditions; it is also significant for the students and entire UIC community. That's the promise and possibility of collective bargaining.
Howard Bunsis, chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, called the union's agreement with the university "an historic moment for the academic profession."
"The membership was able to achieve a contract that fairly compensates those who do the critical work of educating the students at UIC," Bunsis added. "Just as important, this contract gave a voice in the process and a seat at the table to both tenure track and contingent faculty. That voice and that seat will demonstrate to students and the university community that everyone benefits when we work collectively.”